LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Priyanka Sharma
REVIEWER: Arfeen Sayyed
September 10, 2021: The officials said that separate “survey operations” have been conducted by the Income Tax Department on Friday, on the premises of online news portals News click and News laundry in New Delhi. They mentioned that these operations are being conducted to verify certain tax payment details and remittances made by the organizations. The officials added that some documents have been found and are being studied.
The survey operation has been conducted under the provisions of section 133A of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Only the business premises of the assesses and people linked thereto are covered by the tax officials and not their residential premises. However, tax authorities can seize the documents.
Although there was no immediate reaction from the two portals or their promoters, but their social media handles are continuously updating new stories and articles.
In February, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the News click and its founder under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and therefore the investigation is claimed to be linked with the alleged questionable foreign funding received by its registered company that runs the news portal.
A Delhi Police FIR threw light on this money laundering case alleging that in the 2018-19 financial year, PPK News click Studio Pvt Ltd has received foreign direct investment (FDI) from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC USA.
News click’s editor-in-chief and founder Prabir Purkayastha has been granted an interim protection from arrest by The Delhi High Court in relation with the Delhi Police FIR which relates to its probe against the foreign funding of the company. The High Court also granted him protection from coercive action in the ED case.
News click in the court has argued that as alleged by the probe agencies, no question of siphoning off of funds is there as the fund has been utilised to pay salaries to the employees and even no loss to the exchequer was there in the process.
The ED has claimed that the other reason to probe News click and its promoters is the alleged transfer of certain funds to activist Gautam Navlakha who is the accused in the Elgar Parishad case of Maharashtra.
In connection with the said case, Navlakha who is lodged in a Maharashtra jail, has also been questioned.
In a statement earlier, Purkayastha has said that a dirty campaign has been launched against the portal, and all those “selective leaks” by the ED, whose probe is already under challenge before court, shows the “inherent weakness” in the investigation and the course that it will take in the court.
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